Applications for the upcoming 2017 PBA Draft closed on Thursday afternoon. A batch of 44 hopefuls were bannered by standouts Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena, and Jeron Teng.
UAAP players Jett Manuel, Jason Perkins, and Raymar Jose were among the aspirants, as well as NCAA cagers Rey Nambatac, Sidney Onwubere, and Zach Nichols.
There was one name, however, that wasn’t on the prestigious list.
Robert Bolick of the defending NCAA champions San Beda Red Lions didn’t file his application to join the professional ranks. Bolick still has one more year of eligibility left in the NCAA and he plans to stay in the school which he owes so much to.
“Yung decision ko to stay is because I love the school,” admitted Bolick. “Kung hindi naman dahil sa kanila, di naman ako magkakaganito eh.”
San Beda took Bolick with open arms after he was being seldom used with the De La Salle Green Archers. “Bench player lang ako pero tinanggap nila ako with all heart and helped me improve my game,” he said.
The Red Lions won the NCAA title a year ago, winning over the Arellano Chiefs, with Bolick as one of their main weapons. In his three-year stay in San Beda (including one-year residency), Bolick has found a home. He was able to go to the United States for the first time in his life, established good relationships with security guards, janitors, and teachers in the school, and made a name for himself as one of the top pro prospects today, all thanks to San Beda.
“Sobrang sarap sa San Beda. Minsan ka lang naman maging college player eh,” he quipped.
Bolick also shared that he consulted with San Beda team manager Jude Roque before making his decision. He weighed his options, talked to his family, and eventually made the choice to stay.
Bolick, however, already proved his readiness in the professional level when he averaged 12.2 points, on 49.5 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals for the Cignal-San Beda HD Hawkeyes in the 2017 PBA D League Aspirants’ Cup.
In the current NCAA season, the Red Lions have won 15 straight ball games for a 16-1 record with Bolick at the forefront of their success. He is providing his team with 12.3 points a game, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.
“We [were] Vibering yesterday because I really don’t know if he’d really go to the draft or not,” admitted his coach Boyet Fernandez. “Only advice I gave him is look at the future. Mas maganda pa rin na graduate ka. You still have one more year for San Beda but again, it’s really his decision.”
On Thursday, as the application period for the draft was about to close, Bolick even sent a joke to Fernandez saying he already submitted his name to the pool.
“I told him, ‘Hey you still have five more minutes to take it out.’” Fernandez replied affectionately, ultimately leaving the decision all to his star guard.
“But again, I really appreciated that Robert took the other way and stayed with San Beda,” Fernandez said. “I’m sure the whole San Beda community will love him for that. I cannot ask for more, having Robert Bolick in my line-up next year. It will be good for us.”
For the 21-year-old Bolick, his postponement of his PBA journey was an act of loyalty to the school who accepted him and developed him into the star he is today. If the Red Lions goes on to win more championships with Bolick at the helm, his decision to stay will be worthwhile.